The BBC has announced that the next actor to play the Doctor in the long running Dr. Who series is 26 year old Matt Smith. Matt Smith will be the youngest actor to play the Doctor, who had been exploring time and space since 1963.
Dr. Who started broadcasting in 1963 with the late William Hartnell as the mysterious Doctor, a “Time Lord” who travels in time and space in a device called a Tardis, which on the outside looks like an old fashioned British police call box, but on the inside is a sophisticated time and space vessel. The Doctor usually travels with a group of companions, humans and aliens, who have changed at various times during the course of the series.
Dr. Who has also incorporated a device to ensure the series’ longevity by occasionally changing the actor who plays the Doctor and explaining that the Doctor must, from time to time, “regenerate” thus explaining the change of actors. Matt Smith will thus be the eleventh Doctor in the series.
The format of the series allows for a wide range of story lines, which can involve the Doctor and his companions having adventures on some alien planet one week and on another week visiting a period in Earth history. The time travel motif has even allowed for the return of previous actors who have played the Doctor as his previous incarnations, as in the episodes The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors.
Dr. Who has always aired on BBC 1 in Great Britain. Until the 21st Century, Dr. Who appeared in syndication in American on PBS. More recently, episodes of Dr. Who have aired in the United States on the Scifi Channel.
Dr. Who has been noted for its ultra low budgets, its somewhat slipshod production values, and its occasional campy story lines. Nevertheless Dr. Who has acquired a large and loyal fan base and is considered the longest running science fiction series ever to run on television. More recent seasons of Dr. Who have appeared to have larger budgets and tighter production values; the camp remains, of course.
Dr. Who has spun off a number of series, including the Sarah Jane Chronicles, featuring one of the more famous of the Doctors companions, and Torchwood, about a secret organization based in Cardiff, Wales and noted for its gay friendly story lines.
Matt Smith will make his first appearance as the Doctor in 2010, after the current Doctor, David Tennant finishes the last of four scheduled special Dr. Who specials.
Sources: New Doctor actor is youngest ever, BBC News, January 3rd, 2008
Dr. Who, Wikipedia